…is to set upright the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Yes, I realize you would destroy the value of an historical monument, but that’s beside the point…
The tower could be straightened in a couple different ways. It could have tightened cables attached about halfway up the tower so that the building could be pulled to stand upright, or it could have the foundation (ground-level) reinforced so that the building would stand upright. The first option might keep the building straight for awhile, but if the cables were ever removed, the building would probably crash to the ground.
The same goes for our lives. Experientially, we are not upright. Christians still lean because of indwelling sin, and yet we are called to walk uprightly. Telling one another to stop sinning might work for a week or two (more like a day or two, or an hour or two)… However, we are all inclined to fall back into our old patterns of living. It is like trying to fix the leaning tower with tightened cables.
However, if what we spend our time on is fixing the foundation of who we are in Christ, our perspective of our lives will slowly change, & we will naturally begin to walk more uprightly. Martin Luther said this about the crucial nature of understanding the gospel (good news) of Jesus: “I have to preach the gospel to myself every day because I forget it every day. I have to preach the gospel to my people every week because they forget it every week.”
On Sunday morning, I began a series of sermons upon the theme of godly sorrow & repentance out of 2 Corinthians 7:9-10. In this passage, Paul is commending these believers because they were filled with a godly sorrow which led to them turning and going in an opposite direction.
In fact, Paul had written 1 Corinthians describing many of the problems in the church & called them to repent. In 1 Corinthians, the church was split into 4 different factions; there was sexual immorality; there was spiritual pride and various other sins in the church.
Yet, at the time of Paul writing 2 Corinthians, they had understood his calling to repent, and they were doing it! They were not merely grieved that they got caught (worldly sorrow); they sorrowed to the point of actually reconciling broken relationships, etc. How did this change happen?
In Colossians 1, Paul prays: 11May you be strengthened w/ all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance & patience with joy, 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness & transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
In these verses Paul makes it clear that we have been qualified based upon Jesus’ perfection, not ours. If we were to go to the bank to get a loan for a house, the bank would look at our credit rating & history and then approve or deny our loan based upon our credit.
However, for the Christian, God qualifies us NOT ON THE BASIS OF OUR RECORD BUT ON THE BASIS OF JESUS’ PERFECT RECORD!!
We have been delivered from darkness, no matter how much current darkness (or bondage to sin) we still face. We have been transferred into Christ’s kingdom. We no longer live in the kingdom of self and sin. Because of Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection God no longer sees believers in the same way that he sees unbelievers. Yes, He sees our failures, but He also sees Christ’s absolutely perfect life inside of us. That is why the good news is good news!! In our experience we are not yet perfect, but in the sight of God we ARE because of Jesus!!
Christian husband, every time you belittle your wife, you do so as one who has been delivered from the power of sin. It is NOT WHO YOU ARE.
Christian wife, every time you complain about how short your husband comes to your standard or how miserable your life is, you do so as one who has everything you NEED in Jesus to be acceptable to God.
Every time we grumble about our situation in life, we do so as people who are FULLY accepted & perfect in the sight of God. You cannot out-sin His grace (see also Ephesians 2:4-7).
Christian, today with all of your sin and failure, you are STILL 100% accepted by God. In 1 Corinthians, Paul instructed the believers of this fact. Jesus is TRULY everything we NEED. We will never again be treated as a child of God’s wrath. We will only experience His love (even loving discipline) from now on throughout eternity.
Meditate on this fact this week. I pray that this truth will slowly but surely pour itself into the foundation of your life (and my life) because if it does, we will naturally begin to walk uprightly and will naturally want to live a life pleasing to God.
If you are interested in listening to the sermon from this blog post, you can do that here.